Strong and Getting Stronger

Cathy Smith“Strong” is a word we hear often. Sometimes, it’s a word that mobilizes communities that are recovering from disaster; other times, it’s simply a concept that just make sense. When I open my favorite book, the thesaurus, the index for the “strong” shows that it relates to words like these: energetic, great, influential, robust, substantial, tough. Good words.

Those related ideas are the reason why “strong” is a word we’re using a lot, too, at IAP2USA. If you were on the phone with us, you’d hear it in all the conversations we have with the aim of being a strong home for our members.

A few examples:

  • A few mornings ago before daybreak here, your Board and International Federation Representatives were working with partners across the many time zones of the globe on strategies to build strong regions and a strong international organization.
  • Yesterday, our Revenue Task Force spoke of being financially strong to represent our members and introduce more people to the core values of good public participation
  • And last Friday when your Board met, we talked about getting stronger by expanding our presence across the nation, expanding our services, and expanding our philanthropy in coming years.

The opportunity to be strong has never been greater for our organization for two reasons. First, we stand on the good past work of all the people that founded and got this organization organized and we thank them. Second, there’s never been a time more specific to our core values and services.

To dig deeper on the time we are in, here are a few reasons why it is so important for us to be as strong as possible. Last year, the United Nations in its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared that we have just 12 years to make good decisions together around climate change an in effort to keep its impacts in the moderate range. The American Society of Civil Engineers has identified a tremendous backlog of infrastructure needs across the country from water systems to bridges, giving the nation a grade of D+ and a lot of decisions to make together in the near and long term futures. And our neighborhoods and schools are bearing the brunt of social issues that trace back to basic fairness of our first core value—that people impacted by a decision should be involved in the decision.

All of these factors create a need for the services that we collectively as members deliver every day. We are inspired by each other’s pursuit to do good work by helping people make good decisions together. After all, when we say “good decisions” what we’re talking about is strong decisions—decisions that have been tested, have considered the people they’ll impact, have made the most of the resources available, and have created solutions that wouldn’t be possible if the decision maker stayed isolated.

Isolated is the opposite of the type of strong we’re talking about. The type of strong we are talking about is inviting, welcoming, joined, unsiloed. As a community we are becoming more joined than ever every day, with more members and emerging chapters. In addition to our growing membership numbers, our Ambassadors across the country are inviting and welcoming and helping others join us as well. And our National Dialogues on core issues and values of the organization are working on the issues we all face. Through everyone’s participation as a member, as a chapter, as an Ambassador and dialogue partner, we are continuing to learn how to model the very engagement we seek to build, making us better at what we do every day.

So next time you hear the word “strong,” know its an ideal we’re pursuing daily. Like Rome, it won’t be built in a day, but it will be built a little bit every day by each of us.

Thanks for your efforts to make IAP2USA strong now and into the future.

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